Kokoa Magazine

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Table of Contents Hot Topics: Gang Violence and Identity Theft …...page 7

Beauty Section: How to take care of your feet during the winter …..page 13

Fashion Section: Fall fashion for men,women, and children...page 17

Organization Section: Featuring two organizations that are doing things to help the community ….page 28

Lifestyle Section: Halloween and fall décor, Youth football, and Virtual Carer and more…. page 35

Food Section: Fall soups….page 43

Business section: Featuring 2 businesses that are a must see ….page 45 Readers Corner: …….page 50

Credits page 52

Thank you Whew, we made it through the first issue. I want to thank everyone for their support. We do a word of the day on Facebook and Twitter every morning and there are a few people who don’t miss a word I appreciate them so much you have no idea.

To everyone who has RT and shared the magazine on their TL or Facebook page thank you from the bottom of my heart. We reached over 3500 readers (that’s actual readers not robots) for the August issue and that is good to say I have been doing everything online. You are what makes this magazine special by spreading the word and making sure Kokoa is read.

To my contributors thank you thank you thank you. I have some new businesses that did interviews and said yes without even asking any questions. I got some great articles from people who just wanted to share a story or two and I appreciate them so much.

If you have done anything to make this magazine what it is I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I can’t name all the names but I see you and I love what you are doing to help this magazine succeed.

Kita Bryant

Contributors Editor in chief – Kita Bryant Hometown: Charleston, SC Now Living: Atlanta, GA Occupation: Domestic Engineer One word to describe you: Blunt Hobby: Reading, writing, playing basketball, cooking Public Relations – Kymberly Glass Hometown: Birmingham, Al ; residing in Atlanta Occupation: Makeup Artist One word to describe you: Geek Hobby: blogging, sewing, gadgetry, writing Website: http://chicestgeek.com/ Photographer— Lashawn Wiltz Hometown: Washington DC Now living: Atlanta, GA Occupation: Registered Nurse in Labor and Delivery and Wanna be photographer in my spare time.( what spare time?) One Word to describe you: Honest Hobby: reading, writing and taking photos Website: http://chroniclesofpookahsmom.com/ Food Contributor – C. Haynes Hometown: West Covina, CA - now residing in North Little Rock, AR Occupation: Civilian Administrative Assistant for the Army National Guard One word to describe you: Ambitious Hobbies: Reading, poetry, horseback riding, traveling Website: http://enhanceme2.blogspot.com Fashion Contributor— Shavon Born and raised in Alabama, I am a country girl with international style. Realizing that fashion is were I can truly express my creativity and talents, I started SoBamaBell Styling in February 2012. Since then I have gained experience through working with artists and designers in the Atlanta area. I truly believe that fashion is the best outlet to express ones self. Some of my upcoming ventures will include adding being radio personality to my accomplishments, as well as working towards my very on custom tee shirt line.

About KoKoa Kokoa is pronounced (Ko Ko Ah) and it is derived from Japan not to be confused with cocoa or anything of that nature. Kokoa means love of the heart, mind, and spirit. This magazine is about life, about real life that regular people live. No celebrities, no high priced fashions, no fancy foods, and nothing that represents the rich and famous. I want this magazine to represent my life and the lives of people who live just like me. People who struggle, who go through more downs than ups, and people who live in hopes that things will get better. I will have real topics that will be discussed, real fashion that are affordable, real food that can be pronounced, and real life as we live it. I hope you are enjoying your life and living with all of your heart, mind, and spirit.

Contacting KoKoa Magazine Contact: biztalkwithk@gmail.com Website: www.kokoamag.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KokoaMagazine Twitter: https://twitter.com/KoKoaMagazine

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The fall has arrived I am not a fan of the fall because that means it get’s cooler. My favorite time of the year is Spring because it’s not too hot but not too cold. When fall comes in you start to see the stores fill up with Halloween candy and holiday decorations. Fall is the time of year to enjoy your favorite football team, decorate in warm colors, bake pies, and enjoy hot chocolate. Fall is also the time that I reflect on my life because fall also means to drop down under the force of gravity. Have you ever fallen in love, or know someone who has been put on a pedestal then they fall. Maybe you know someone who has fallen on hard times and the fall hurts more than life itself. The fall is harder than the climb and in my life I have fallen so hard that I don’t know how I got up. What have you fallen for lately. Was it a lie, a person, a gimmick, or was it just you giving up and finally falling because you didn’t have the strength to stand anymore? Whatever it is I am here to tell you that you can get up it’s hard believe me I know if you are not dead then you can get back up.

Kita Bryant

Falling into Gangs by Kita B.

A gang in Wikipedia is defined as a group of recurrently associating individuals with identifiable leadership and internal organization, identifying with or claiming control over territory in the community, and engaging either individually or collectively in violent or other forms of illegal behavior . In other words a gang is a group of people who get together to rob people, sell drugs to their own kin, where certain colors, and give each other silly nicknames. Gangs in the older days were bad but I feel they have gotten worse. Where I am from you chose to be in a gang. Nowadays you join one or get beat on whether you want too or not. You can’t run from gangs either they are in the country just as much as they are in the city. Gangs are made up of members who need and want to be a family because they feel their own family has abandoned them. Chicago has one of the biggest gang infestation ever heard of. People get killed in that city on a daily basis due to gang violence. How do you we prevent being in a gang? There is no easy way unless you basically shield your child from people or maybe put them in an all exclusive

private school. Growing up in Charleston, SC I had heard of gangs but was never exposed to it because either I was too busy doing after school activities or my mom made sure I was home doing homework. My free time was spent in the library or working to make money. I was instilled these things from a little girl. Now you may say more boys are in gangs than girls this might be true to some aspect but girl gangs are on the rise. I don’t believe girls are as dangerous but you just never know. How can we prevent gang violence is the big question. I don’t think there is a way to avoid it completely but here are a few steps I plan on taking with my kids. I plan to keep them busy. My son and daughter will both be filled with activities starting now while they are 3 and 6. When my sons does get of middle school age (most gangs start in middle school) I will be monitoring his whereabouts and keeping close tabs on who he hangs with. Now some kids are still in gangs even if they come from a decent home I understand this but some kids are followers. You must make sure your child has enough backbone to stand up for themselves. You need to instill leadership qualities in them so they won’t do what everyone else does. I think that is what gangs look for the weak, someone who they can prey on who they know will do what they say just to be accepted and have some klout. Gang members get other people to do their dirty work for them that’s why gangs are created. Gangs use violence to settle disputes. To be in a gang you have to do something to pass initiation. Most of the time it’s either robbing or killing someone. Once you have completed your initial test you are part of a group of people who will cause more harm than good. You will find yourself fighting for your turf and making sure you are the biggest baddest gang in all the land. Gang members come in all different shapes and sizes it’s not just a black or Mexican thing it’s a world problem. We need more positivity in areas that gangs are well known to frequent and gain their followers from. Not all gang members are bad to the core they just want to belong to something and have a sense of family. If we give them that family in a positive way then they will have no need to look for it outside of their home.

Don’t Fall Victim to Identity Theft by Latorsha Name: Latorsha aka Super Wife & Mom Occupation: Domestic Engineer, I do a job that no one can truly put a value on so I do it for free. One word to describe you: Blessed Hobbies: Exercising and Writing One thing you have learned in life: Life is what you make it. Choose wisely.

We have all heard about identity theft. We have all watched the commercials of actors portraying victims and seeing the consequences of identity theft. But the question is, what do we do to try to protect ourselves? Well, I am not an expert just an everyday wife and mom sharing some tidbits you might just find worth giving a try. A number of years ago a coworker shared a personal story with me about her husband’s never ending ordeal about his identity theft. The story was like most, BUT what forever stood out was that the culprit was a health care front office worker!!!

This really got me thinking about all the information we provide on the paperwork at the doctor’s office, especially out social security number (SSN). Well, guess what? I stopped proving my SSN and would you believe 99% of the time they never ask me about it. SSN is rarely used in healthcare anymore as a medical record number and most providers will tell you things like we don’t need it, those forms are old, or it’s on file we already have it in the system. So just think about it next time you readily provide your SSN on a paper form for many people to handle and view. A couple of years later, I was checking my bank account and I noticed an expense for an utility bill from another state. I called the company and apparently someone had paid their $300+ electric bill with my money! I immediately disputed the charges with the company. The company and bank contacted the person for additional verification and she could not verify my security questions. Lesson – Be sure your security questions are ones only you can answer and not easily found online or anywhere else. Most recently (yes, again), last year, someone decided to go on a shopping spree with our credit card. Again checking my account I noticed a large purchase at an electronics store. We immediately called to dispute the charges and had the account closed. During the dispute process we were told the person presented the card during the purchase. Well, my husband and I had our cards in our possession. Apparently the criminal had made a duplicate of our card. After an investigation by our credit card company we received a full credit to our account. Thank goodness!! Lesson – We set up email notifications for our bank and credit card accounts for online purchases, large purchases, and suspicious activity, (such as out of state or the country). In addition we only use credit cards at the gas pump and online. These are common ways people steal your information, and credit card companies will dispute and refund your money, whereas most regular bank accounts often do not refund money that is lost due to theft. Here are just a few more tips I recommend. Get a free copy of your credit report with online, request in writing, or by phone. For me online, and phone has worked best. Annualcreditreport.com is a site that you can check out for more information. Lastly, check out what’s online about you by typing in your name at google.com, spokeo.com, peekyou.com, and mylife.com (just to name a few, sadly there are many). Please consider doing this, you might be surprised. If you do find your private information, don’t panic too much, most sites will let you opt out by phone or email fairly easy. But remember the information is from public sources, so to fully remove it you have to remove the information from the original source, which unfortunately isn’t so easy and may cost you money and time.

DIY Halloween Costumes By Donnica Carter Let’s get on track with saving a buck or two this year. Why not try to make your own Halloween costume!?!?!? Don’t give Party City all your money!!! J If you haven’t already, you NEED to join Pinterest. It is a DIYer’s sanctuary. And a wannabe DIYer’s heaven. GET ON IT! So while I was strolling through I’ve run across some really great ideas for costumes. Here are a few for the kids…

Raining cats and dogs


Pics courtesy of Realsimple.com

What You Need Rain Slicker Rain Boots Furry stuffed Animals An Old Umbrella Hot Glue Gun

What You Need Black shirt and pants Star stickers Oversized gold sweatshirt Scissors Newspaper Orange acrylic paint (water based) Paint brush Fabric glue

And if the adults want to join in on the fun, here are a few simple costumes as well.

Tacky Tourist

Photo courtesy of Target.com

What You Need Khaki Shorts T-shirt (preferably from a vacation sport) Button Down shirt (preferably a Hawaiian shirt) Socks Sandals A Camera with a strap (to wear around your neck) Sunglasses A lei A hat (preferably straw) Small luggage Drinking cup (fruit-shaped) Sunblock (for your nose) A map Get creative!! Think of things you already have in your closet and just go crazy! This is a time to have fun!! And don’t forget you will really have fun when your wallet still has a few dollars in it! LOL If your office has a prize for best costume and you win, tell them KOKOA hooked you up!! J DCSquared

Beauty: Fall Beauty Tips

Name: Angela Oliver Occupation: Full time nursing student One word to describe you: Honest Hobbies: Reading, make up, doing and absolutely nothing Something you have learned about life: Change is inevitable Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/ happyblkwoman/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/iluvang

With fall fast approaching women tend to decrease or completely stop taking care of their feet. This is not my normal practice because I adore an awesome pedi. Not only do my feet look great but that is my time to relax and chill. This month I am going to give you some tips you can try at home to keep your feet soft and pretty over the next couple of months. All of these 

Olive oil- this product is great for more that cooking. I often apply this to my feet at night and sleep with a pair of socks on. When I wake up in the morning my feet feel great and they are not ashy. Do this consistently and you will not have a problem when it is time to pull the sandals back out.


Cocoa Gel made by Vaseline- I use this the same way I do the olive oil. I put it on at night and sleep in socks.

Dr. Scholl’s Overnight Foot Cream-I have used this in the past with no problem but the prior options are just as good.

Epsom salt, apple cider vinegar and a pumice stone- I saw this on pinterest but I haven’t tried it yet. It is on my list of things to try since I already have all the ingredients at home. The directions are simple: Fill a large bowl with warm water and add 1 cup apple cider vinegar with 1 cup Epsom salt. Soak your feet for 10-15 minutes, rinse and lightly scrub with pumice stone.

Homemade foot scrub-you can make with olive oil and kosher salt. Use a couple of time during the week in the shower. Once out of the shower use one of the items listed above and put on socks!

Fall Fix: 4 Tips for Healthy Hair By Keocia “Kay” Howard, Knatural Wit A Kay

The leaves are getting brighter and the air is getting cooler. The change of seasons means many changes in lifestyle, from the clothes you wear to the activities you participate in. As you think about the areas of your life that you will have to adjust along with the changing weather, don’t forget about your beautiful tresses. You’ve had all summer to show it off; now it’s time to repair your hair.

Fall is a crucial time to repair hair from damage done over the summer, and also to prepare the hair for the winter. In the summer, chlorine and sun damage are two major concerns, not to mention the fact that we tend to wear our hair out more during the summer months. With winter peeking her head around the corner, threatening dry air and windy conditions, it’s time to make some changes to your hair regimen. Deep Conditioning The purpose of a deep conditioner is to restore moisture to the hair. When done regularly, over a period of time, deep conditioning can greatly improve hair’s sheen, bounce and overall health. The brand of deep conditioner doesn’t matter; in fact, you can use any conditioner as a deep conditioner; simply cover your hair with a plastic cap and let the conditioner sit for 15 – 30 minutes, applying heat from a dryer or steamer if you wish. If you do not currently deep condition your hair, try adding it to your regimen this fall. If you already deep condition, consider increasing the frequency to once a week. Low-Manipulation Styling Low manipulation styling is styling your hair in a way that is manageable with the least amount of hand-tohair contact. By keeping your hands out of your hair, you greatly reduce the risk of breakage. Twists and braids are good LM styles because they can be easily styled while keeping your hair protected. Protective styling, a type of LM styling that focuses on keeping the ends of the hair tucked away, is also a great way to help your hair heal. By protecting the oldest, most fragile part of the hair, you reduce the amount of trimming necessary; therefore, you retain more length. Start experimenting with LM and protective styling this fall. Pin up your twists or braids and come up with a few styles that you can rock in the winter. Buns are also highly fashionable protective styles.

Oil and Water They may not mix well in the kitchen, but your hair will love oil and water. Water is the most basic form of moisture and your hair needs it. Make a habit of moisturizing your hair with water at least once per week in addition to your wash regimen. A light spritzing with a spray bottle will do. Once your hair is damp, use an oil of your choice to seal the moisture into your hair, being sure to show extra love to the ends. Develop a Routine Getting into a routine can really simplify your hair styling process and make it much easier on you. The main thing is that you do what works for your hair. The above guidelines are just a general starting point to get on the right track. You may decide to add or take away from it based on your hair type. Remember, this is the time to repair your hair and get it nice and strong as you prepare to brave the winter, so find what works for you, turn it into a routine and stick to it!

Photo Credits: 1. http://www.mypure.co.uk/natural-hair-care-news/natural-hair-care-trends-autumn-curls--id800037005 2. http://blackgirllonghair.com/?tag=natural-hair-protective-styles

Name: Keocia "Kay" Howard Occupation: Television Producer and Natural Hair Blogger One word to describe you: Optimist Hobbies: Writing, reading, quality time with my husband One thing you have learned in life: Be yourself and make no apologies for it Website: knatural.blogspot.com


Fall Into Fashion by Shavon Layers, layers, and more layers. Fall is the very best season for fashion hands down. This season gives the best opportunity to really mix and match colors and prints. And the rich colors are just to die for. The deep purples, autumn reds, and we can't forget that rich orange that always seems to be hard to find. The Fall season always for more creativity and you don't have to spend a lot either. Take a look at what's already in your closet and add a few simple pieces that will be interchangeable. Don't be afraid to mix those prints and stripes either. And the very best thing about Fall...you can still use most of the tanks and sheer pieces from your Summer wardrobe. When I say "Save", you say "Money"! Another fav of Fall is, the boots are back baby! I absolutely love seeing the seasons hottest boots for women, men, and the cutest little boots for girls. Now go forth and fall into fashion. And as always, express yourself.

On the next few pages we will showcase some fall fashions for Women, Men, Boys and Girls follow us as we travel through fall with something to dress up in and something to dress down in.


Name: Desmond Word to describe him: Creative What do you want to be when you grow up: Zookeeper Hobbies: Drawing and playing with animals

What he has on Shoes: Crazy 8 ~ $15.00 Jeans: Crazy 8 ~ $20.00 Shirt: Crazy 8 ~ $11.00 Jacket: Sears Canyon Blue $10.00

Outfit on Polyvore under Kreative10 Sweater: Polo ~ $65.00 (TJ Maxx has them for 1/2 the price) Jeans: Levi’s ~ $36.00 (Unica has the best prices for Levis) Boots: Polo Boots ~ $50.00 (I got my sons boots from Journeys on sale for $35.00) Watch: Diesel ~ Price varies


The weekend look is simple yet stylish for men. Throw on some black jeans and a polo shirt and you have a great go to look for men.

Girls Jacket from TJMaxx, pants and shoes and vest from Old Navy.

Girls are so easy to dress here is an example of a dressed down and dressed up look for the fall. You can always mix and match girls clothes to create different outfits. I also like to explore colors other than pink.

Boots: From Joyfolie.com but you can find brown boots at macys for cheaper Leggings: I buy my daughters from Target or walmart normally in a pack for under 5 bucks. Dress: A nice cream sweater is hard to find I normally have to go to specialty shops or boutiques or etsy where this one is $20.00 Jewelry: I get my daughters jewelry from Claires or Walmart

Women Jacket from JC Penny, shirt and pants from NY&Co, shoes from Target, and belt from TJMaxx.

Women come in all different shapes and sizes and that’s what makes us beautiful. Here we have something you can wear to work and something you can relax in.

The weekends are a great time to play with colors here we have some examples of colors in a casual weekend look.

Must have fall accessories

by BiBi Gray Davis

10 Things Any Fashionista Needs This Fall As the leaves begin to fall and the weather starts to cool, a wardrobe change is definitely needed. From light, leather jackets to the matching rain boots, every fashionista will be pulling out her go to items for the fall. Here are 10 essential items for the Fall in any weather. Here are some inexpensive ways to get that wardrobe together! 1.Trench coat is essential this fall. Every season you see the trench coat resurface in one of its many faces. But for a fashionista on a budget a Double Breasted, belted trench would be sure to make any diva shine at 74.99 from Mango.com. 2. Little Black (or Navy Blue) Dress is an all year around necessity. It's simplicity can take you further than one would think. With a few pop colors to add contrast, the Gwen Beloti Stretch Lace Dress will turn many heads.

3. A Great White Shirt is another classic piece. Use an occupational collared button up that accents the waist, or a white ruffle collar shirt from Milanoo.com to give your neckline drama. At a steal for $25.99, this 100% silk shirt gives the power suit an extra boost.

4. Black Tights are every girls go to outfit when getting dressed up seems too much. Now you can dress your tights up in the day or night this fall. Combining tights with a mini will help give the allusion of lengthy legs.

5. A Well Fit Black Blazer can be dressed up for a full day at corporate and then turned down with a pair of jeans that gives you a chic look. The black blazer goes with everything and accentuates the waist if worn closed. Don't be scared to add a little flair with a broach or your favorite pin.

6. Riding Boots/Rain Boots area MUST for the fall rainy season. Neutral colors like browns, greens, or dark blues are the best protection against falling leaves and cold weather.

7.Dark Blue Skinny Jeans from the Gap are always in style. Accenting any woman's curves, skinny jeans are more sexy approach to the casual jean. Make sure your skinny jeans are fitted to your body, but not too tight that it's difficult to move. 8. A patterned scarf is easy to find, but I've found small mom and pop shops or even online stores have the best. A simple pattern or mosaic scarf from KearranTheory Botique would run about $25, but look like a million bucks. Pair with the trench it's sure to bring life

9. Oversized bags are always a staple in a woman's wardrobe, but this season the oversized clutch is winning! All women want a clutch bag that speaks to them individually and Gwen Beloti is just the place! Oversized clutch bags that are handmade and range in prices, but are still not going to break the bank.

10. A leather biker jacket for the Saturday's where rip jeans are worn with a simple white v neck. It gives a flare to a casual outfit without stealing the complete look.

Fall Fashion starts with jewelry what better way to get into jewelry than by checking out one of my favorite jewelry places Stella and Dot I was able to catch up with one of their independent Stylists check out what she has to say about Stella and Dot.

Name: Crystal Willis Occupation: Independent Stylist for Stella & Dot One word to describe you: Compassionate Hobbies: Reading, Tap Dancing, Volunteering One thing you have learned in life: Not to give up on your dreams. You will face many challenges along the way to accomplishing your dreams (including your own doubt and fears) but you have to believe and keep going. That dream is not in your heart for nothing. Website: www.stelladot.com/crystalwillis What was it that made you want to become a Stella and Dot consultant? I stumbled on the website one night and instantly fell in love with the jewelry. After receiving more information I was also intrigued by the business aspect of it and the fact that it was something I could do in my own time. Not to mention it mixed fashion and fun girl time!

What is it about Stella and Dot that is different from the rest of the jewelry companies? Stella & Dot is different in that we offer several styles to suit the many different style personalities. We have trendy, statement pieces to the casual, charm pieces. We also offer a small selection of little girls jewelry and handbags. Our jewelry is hand designed in New York. There is a lot of craftsmanship in our jewelry and we use quality material such as semi-precious stones, metals, and sterling silver.

We don't do "jewelry parties". Instead we focus on doing in-home trunk shows in which it is more comfortable to get a group of friends together to try on jewelry and be styled. There are no presentations or no pressure to buy. I also like to note that Stella & Dot believes in giving back which is something that I am really passionate about. Our Stella & Dot Foundation partners with organizations such as BuildOn and Girls Inc. to raise money to help empower women and girls through economic and educational development. Our new fundraiser, which I'm really excited about, will be Sept. 1 - Oct. 15th to raise money to renovate an elementary school in Bronx, NY through the sale of our Foundation Bracelets. We also have an Student Entrepreneur Program for college women who are interested in fashion and social selling. How has your company handled the downturn of the economy? Our company has not really changed during the downturn. During this time we have added more stylists to the organization because many women are looking for ways to supplement income from unemployment. It also allow some women the opportunity to spend more time with their families or gives them a new hobby. Our sales has also increased due to the fact half our line is under $50 and we offer great hostess rewards. Instead of spending lots of money on a new wardrobe, it's easier and more cost efficient to buy a few accessories to update your look. What are your future goals for you and the company? My goal is to be eliminate my student loans in 2 years with the help of this company and I wish to become a Director. What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the business? You have to be passionate about the product and what you do. When you are passionate about something you usually are happier and willing to do what it takes to succeed. And even though it's a fun job, it is YOUR business and you have to treat it as such. Meaning you can't wait around for things to happen for you. You have to put in the time just like any other business.

House of D.I.V.A.S., INC.

Name: Chontate Brown Occupation: Founder /CEO OF House of D.I.V.A.S., INC. One word to describe you: Strong Hobbies: Traveling, networking, family outings, and event planning One thing you have learned in life: To have faith and patience in every area of your life and to include God in your everyday life decision making. Website: www.houseofdivas.org Company Mission Statement: House of D.I.V.A.S., INC. is a nonprofit organization, charitable, organizing women group to provide community services and health awareness through education and to undertake projects such as the homeless, community, abused, and at risk teens/children while encouraging empowerment among all women and girls of all ages and ethnicity.

1. Why did you want to create your organization? I created my organization to give someone something to believe in regardless of what his or her circumstances may be. I know all too well about being homeless as a child living in the Salvation Army. A victim of physical and emotional abuse in different fosters homes, and a teen at risk who made many bad decisions and choices. My organization was designed to provide services and education for the communities throughout the Atlanta, GA and Chicago, IL area and to bring together and empower our sisters of all ages and ethnicity. House of D.I.V.A.S., INC. was created to remind sisters, that they are Divine Individual Virtuous Anointed Sisters of God. We as women need to teach, uplift one another, and be able to show our future Divas how to stand strong, have class, and pizazz! 2. What are some of the main goals for the organization? The main goal of the House of D.I.V.A.S., INC. is to have a powerful effect in and around the community. To be a service to everyone who is in need. To help build the community and restore structure that have been absent throughout the communities. 3. In what ways have this organization’s products and services been most successful over the years? House of D.I.V.A.S., INC. is a new organization, but has been successful so far. In January 2012, we had our first annual Winter Shoe Drive. We collected over 300 pairs of new and gently worn boots and shoes for men, women, and children and distributed them at different homeless shelters (Clara’s House, Maria Shelter, and Thelma’s Place) in Chicago. Through our organization online blog, Facebook page, and Twitter, we keep the community connected daily with helpful tips, inspirational messages, and health related information. This past July, House of D.I.V.A.S., INC. hosted our first annual Back to School Book bag Giveaway Picnic. This free event provided children with activities, food, drinks, live performances, raffles, and of course free book bags and school supplies. 4. What is your background and how did you progress to your present position? I have been a License Practical Nurse since 1999. I have been a service to all lifestyles in this field. Being a nurse is not all about just giving patients medications and healing the sick. Nursing is about being compassionate, supportive, encouraging, and giving guidance to whoever is in need. I am currently attending University of Phoenix, earning my Bachelor’s Degree in Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship. Did I mention that I am a mother of six children!

5. Do you face opposition? In addition, how do you deal with them? Yes, I believe anyone who is determining to live his or her dreams will face opposition. You going to have people who are going to try to block your blessings (Haters) or have negative thinking towards your goals. I remember when one of my college instructors bluntly said, I am not saying a nonprofit is not a good business, but just know there is no grants out there, just need to be mindful of that. One of my classmates asked me, how did I feel about what the instructor said? I replied I felt nothing. That is his opinion. This is my passion and plus there is a promise that I stand firm on “God will meet all your needs according to his glory and riches through Christ Jesus.� That is enough said. 6. How does your company differ from other organization? House of D.I.V.A.S., INC. differs from other organizations because our mission is to be a service to everyone, regardless of race, cultural background, sex, gender, or economic status. We believe that different people needs different kinds of help in different areas of their life. 7. How has your organization adjusted to the down economy? Adjusting to the down economy has not affected the organization because again we are new. However, receiving donations can be sometimes a difficult challenge, because people tend to donate to bigger and well-established organizations rather than smaller ones. I believe hosting continuous fundraisers to raise funds for your organization is a huge help to be able to continue to provide services to your intended target.

8. What are some future goals? Some of House of D.I.V.A.S., INC. future goals is to become a great successful supportive organization international. I have so many things in store like benefit concerts, brunch extravaganzas, networking events, community drives, community building workshops; teens support groups, seminars, and so much more. I would love to collaborate with a well-established nonprofit organization such as Hosea Feed the Homeless or become a sponsor of a large community event. Most of all, I want my own community centers that will have all the resources and is beneficial to the community. I am planning now to help feed the homeless in Atlanta and Chicago. With homelessness being on the rise and not enough shelters to accommodate them, many living on the streets has increased in numbers. By the end of the day, we still need to be a service to them also. 9. If you can change one thing about this company, what would it be? To be able to expand the office area from my bedroom to our own office space. Having our own office space would be a great asset for the company to schedule meetings, volunteer, and membership’s orientation without having to reserve space at a local library or community center. 10. What advice would you give to someone who may want to start a nonprofit organization? First, step out on faith; do not let fear or doubts to keep you from your passion. Make sure you do plenty of research. Research on how to start a non-profit organization. What steps you need to take such as completing mandatory paperwork with your state government office. Attend seminars and classes if needed to get clear understanding and knowledge on to run a business. Have a great mission statement and vision that people can believe in. Know that it takes dedication and plenty of Contact Information Website: http://www.houseofdivas.org Email: divas@houseofdivas.org Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BigdivaCEO Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DIVAS_ORG

Name: Lauren Bealore Occupation: Student; The New England College Masters of Arts in Public Policy Candidate One word to describe you: Tenacious Hobbies: Community Engagement (Volunteering), Attending sporting, cultural, and networking events, poetry and writing One thing you have learned in life: The key to a blissful and prosperous life is to: have patience, be thankful for what you already have, and realize that life can change at any moment so don't take any person or experience for granted Website: www.iamyab.org Company Mission Statement: To showcase young women of color excelling in all aspects of life: health, hair, beauty, fashion, career and networking, education, food and nutrition, entrepreneurship, and scholarship. These select women will display a unique characteristic and style 1. Why did you want to create your organization? Myself and my fellow co-founders Courtney Griffin and Brittany (Daisy) Sutton wanted to create Y.A.B. because the three of us realized that there was an untapped market of young women networking with one another. Based on our experience at Michigan State University together, we realized that many of our peers were excelling in so many different areas and their success needed to be showcased to more people. As a result of our brainstorming and collaborative effort, we formed Y.A.B. We chose the acronyms Young, Ambitious, and Beautiful because we felt that these three words were the depiction for the type of women we wanted to promote career wise. 2.What are some of the main goals for the organization? How does your company differ from other organizations? Some of the main goals of our organization is to help catapult the businesses of our peers, establish a foundation for women of color to develop an elevated network of success, and encourage women of color to support one another when rising to the top. We think it’s important for African American women to network professionally because it is beneficial to catapult African American women to success on the social hierarchy. Historically, African American women are deemed as very independent with negative attitudes and a lack of a need in the corporate realm. Yet, we have proven this to be falsified information. Today, we show that we can have very active roles owning businesses, being lead designers, being lead innovators, and much more. Our only downfall is our lack of communication within a network professionally. This is what makes Y.A.B. different from other businesses and/ or organizations and why are motto is “lifting as we climb”. Through thorough research, we took the methods of leaders and cultures with the most influential and powerful networks and applied it to the network we are trying to build for African American young women. In turn, we will all benefit from one another and work together to dominate the social hierarchy of success.

3. In what ways have this organization’s products and services been most successful over the years? Since we were established in January, it would be expected that we would have very slow progress; however, we have done just the opposite. As soon as we decided to establish Y.A.B., we began working immediately and haven't stopped since. For the past 8 months we have utilized our services to create a venture partnership with about 30 different business where we promote, advertise, market, and provide resources for these businesses to grow, all free of charge and we definitely plan to expand the amount of businesses as we grow. We have attended, supported, and promoted events for women of color in Detroit and plan to continue to do so in other major cities as well as internationally. We are currently working on collaborative events as well as working with different magazines and other publications to feature our members and their individual businesses. We have also created a high school internship program for girls in their junior and senior of high school in order to give them entrepreneurial experience as Social Media and Editorial interns. 4. What is your background and how did you progress to your present position? My background is as a Social Relations and Policy major but I have had experience in event planning, marketing, politics, and law through job and internship experience. Brittany's background is as a Fashion Marketing and Management major but she has had experience with brand marketing, wardrobe styling, image consulting, and education through job and internship experience. Courtney's background is as a Professional Writing and Media, Arts, and Technology major but she has had experience in health and wellness and advertising as well through job and internship experience. 5. Do you face opposition? In addition, how do you deal with them? I wouldn't exactly say we face opposition but I would use the term "obstacle" instead. Every business has hurdles that they have to get over, especially today when many young people are reluctant to be involved or take advantage of opportunities. To deal with this, we do the research and seek out support from individuals as well as the businesses we want to support in order to keep everyone engaged with one another. This takes the quality of leadership for our business to possess. 6. How has your organization adjusted to the down economy? We actually haven't had to make much of an adjustment in this down economy because of the business plan we created. Yes, we do at times need funds for various projects and events but we budget very adequately and seek sponsorship. If we have to come out of pocket, we are very economical about our company decisions. Our business plan provides us with the ability to have a successful business that can grow without being stifled by start-up costs and profit gain/loss.

7 What are some future goals? Our main future goals as of currently are to expand Y.A.B. to an international base and eventually have a Y.A.B. television network. The media seems to drive this myth that African American women are dependent, callous, overzealous individuals that can't function together and Y.A.B. is passionate about disproving this. I feel that with myself, Brittany, and Courtney coming from different backgrounds and having different personalities can come together, the stereotype has already been proven to be just that, a stereotype. 8. If you could change one thing about this company what would it be? I don't think we would change one thing about our organization because we thoroughly thought about our organization and created a vision of its progress before even fully establishing it. 9. What advice would you give to someone who may want to start a non-profit organization? The biggest advice we would give is to visualize your business first in order to successfully implement its mission. Don't see yourself as a small business with little value and growth but a big business with huge value and a plethora of growth material. Many of our venture partners are start-ups but we encourage them to not look at their business on a small scale but see it on a larger scale with much potential.


Cute ideas for the fall Halloween treat box all the directions can be found at http://heroarts.com/blogs/club/2011/09/20/a-tuesday-treat/

Instead of carving pumpkins the regular old way why not scare a few people. http:// www.marthastewart.com/273139/ mouse-motel? &backto=true&backtourl=/ photogallery/pumpkins

Cute center piece idea for a Halloween party and it’s unique who doesn’t love unique stuff. http://www.ashbeedesign.com/2011/10/candy-corn -centerpiece-with-help.html http://swelldesigner.blogspot.com/2011/09/candycorn-bottle-vases.html

Cute idea for décor for the fall and I bet they smell heavenly. http://katiebrownblog.com/apple-candleprojects/

Name: Brandi Occupation: Homemaker One word to describe you: Silly Hobbies: cooking and baking, sewing, watching movies, gardening, listening to music

One thing you have learned in life: It’s easy to make someone’s day just by being pleasant to them.

Website: http://bet1975.blogspot.com

Who says decorating has to be expensive? Brighten up your home for fall with items you may have in your yard. Growing in my yard is a Sweet Gum tree. Sweet Gum trees produce these prickly little balls (“Sweet Gum fruit”). Those prickly little balls are everywhere in my yard! Instead of raking them into a pile, I went outside and gathered a bag full to create a wreath. To construct my wreath, I started with a simple foam, wreath form purchased for a dollar. Then using my glue gun, I attached the prickly fruit to the wreath form starting from the inside and working my way out. Once completed, I attached a saw tooth hanger to the backside, again using my glue gun. I kept things simple to focus on the natural beauty of the Sweet Gum fruit. I love the texture of the wreath. "Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you". - Frank Lloyd Wright

Parenting: Fall sports for kids by K. Bryant

Football season is in. Who is your favorite team? I don’t have one because I don’t know a thing about football and in my home my hubs is not a football fanatic. He will watch it but he does not keep it on ESPN day in and day out. When I had my son of course I started to think what sport can I put him. I have always wanted to put him in baseball because it seemed safer but I could not find any teams in the area I lived in. I heard about a football team in my area so I said why not let him join that for now until I can find a safer sport. My son is 6 he started playing football at the age of 4 and he does not like the sport that much why do I continue to put him in, well because it’s something that is literally up the street from us and the boys he started with at 4 are his friends and he doesn't want to be without his friends they have formed a bond and I don’t want to break that up. His position….I have no idea I think he plays on offense but don’t quote me on that all I know about football is touchdown. I ask him every year does he want to play he says no not really but I want to hang with my friends so I let him play. I am not going to lie he is not any good at football although he does what he is suppose to do he is not a person that stands out. I have found that some parents though are very very hard on their kids when it comes to football. They live their dreams of being a football player through their kids. I have never seen so many parents in my life take a 5/6 year old football game so serious you would think these kids are getting paid for it. You have parents that come ready to tailgate, parents who make their sons run extra laps and go to a fitness center for extra training, you also have parents that will be very upset if their child does not play the position they think the child is good at. I have never been around such intense football playing in all my life. Do you take youth sport seriously? Or are you like me it’s just something fun for the kids to do and that gives them some discipline for other areas of their life? However you deal with your kids let’s remember one thing it’s not you out there. Your kids may not want to live up to what you want them to do and that’s okay. We should make sports fun for kids and not be so serious with our expectations especially for kids in elementary school. We will be discussing youth sports use hashtag #kokoasports

Virtual Career Fairs by Decarlo Allen

Everyone these days are in the rat race to find a decent job. It’s not that jobs are not out there they are. I just think the jobs are just not paying what people need. When trying to find a job people put in endless amounts of applications online and when there is job fair everyone lines up for them. I remember going to a couple of job fairs in my lifetime and they are very crowded and most of the time you don’t really score an interview like they say you will. Most people just walk around and submit their resume to the companies and each company has a stack of resumes from people. My wife hates career fairs she says she never gets to have one on one time with employers and its just to many people and it’s a waste of time. I normally don’t agree with her but after attending many myself I find that they are. Because technology is taking over and things are changing a lot of places are now doing virtual career fairs. Monster (www.monster.com) is one of the first online job websites that do virtual career fairs. I had never heard of virtual career fairs before the first time I attended one was through my school (Devry University) They set me up to attend one and I was quite intrigued not only do you have some great companies but I get to attend a job fair from the comfort of my own home without fighting a crowd. I loved it I was able to chat with companies online and I was able to search better and apply for jobs all over not just in my city. There are a few pros and cons to virtual career fairs and I will name a few that I have encountered.

Pros: 

It saves cost both to you and the company. You don’t have to drive anywhere and the company does not have to spend money on renting space or incur cost for having to train workers or have them away from the office.

The company can reach more people and you can see what else they have to offer throughout the country. Most career fairs you only get to see a selected amount of openings with virtual career fair you can actually see what the company is all about and apply for more than one position

The communication is better because you can chat and ask questions to employers on a more one on one basis. This also gives you a chance to sell yourself without being in a crowd and employers can talk to you and answer questions without interruption

Reduces paperwork is one of the biggest things that is great about a virtual career fair. You can submit your resume online along with other documents all by the click of the mouse. Employers can screen and set up interviews much faster than going through actual paperwork

Cons: 

No face to face interview so you may need to be a little extra to stand out more. Maybe doing a video resume will get you more notices especially if you are online and its easier to move files.

The use of virtual career fairs online may be a little daunting to individuals who may not be familiar with a virtual career fair platform. People may not know how to use the website or navigate through the website well and it may take extra time to figure it out.

The loss of the opportunity for people to get out and practice social skills. This may be the biggest loss if you are not a sociable person having a computer to hide behind gives you a kind of handicap.

All in all technology is growing and you have to either be with it or it will grow without you. Virtual career fairs may become the new thing and we have to be ready for it. I think it’s a great thing to get use to but I don’t think it will ever replace real career fairs completely.

Inspiration: What do you stand for by K. Bryant If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything Many of us have heard these words before. I think we all stand for something because we all have a belief. I don’t know anyone personally who doesn’t have a strong belief for something even if it’s something big like politics or something small as not eating at a certain fast food place. You will stand for something whether it’s good or bad is the real question. You have to think for yourself or you will be gullible to anything people say. That’s why we are blessed to have minds of our own. As we grow we learn, now kids normally have to do what adults say because they have not developed the mindset to learn right from wrong but they still stand for things even at a young age. My son is 6 and he does not like onions he makes a stand for it every time I cook. He made up his own mind that he does not like onions and I can’t even trick him into eating them at all. This is good to know because as he develops and grows I know that he won’t fall for the okey dokey. You can’t follow others opinions of things. Just because your mother is a Republican does not mean you have to be. Just because your father drives trucks for a living does not mean you have to. No one likes boring people and in order to stand out you have to make yourself known. I am the type of person who remembers the person who always goes against me. Why? Because that person has a different view and they are giving me their opinions on what they believe, this makes for great debates and I am the queen of debates. We can have them without being rude or without belittling others. On the other hand, people also follow pointless morals that makes no sense. There is no purpose to what they stand for make sure you have a purpose if you are going to take a stand. Ask yourself why are you standing and will it benefit you in some type of capacity. Others will question you and that’s okay it’s also normal it means they are forming their own opinions whether good or bad. One of the things I stand for very strongly is education. I stand for it because I see that some schools are failing our kids at the end of the day it’s not about the school it’s about what we teach as parents. I stand for education I want my kids to be able to be anything they want to be, make good and bad choices so they can learn but I also want them to have the knowledge to do so. I stand for it so much so that my kids do not watch tv or play video games in the weekdays they also must read a book everyday. I stand for this but others may not and that’s okay because I will make sure my kids don’t fall for anything. When was the last time you took a stand on something. Was it politics, being healthy, standing up for the people you love whatever it was you stood and I hope you made your voice heard even if it was just to a few people.

Food: Fall soups Fall is the time to explore soups because it warms the body and the soul. I love soup because it makes you full without a lot of extra stuff. It’s quick and easy to cook and a great way to save time and money on cooking in the fall. I use my crockpot to make most of my soups because I am in love with that thing. I will give 5 different soups for each day of the week, the weekend you are on your own. (All recipes I have included the website where the complete directions are located to cook each soup)

Monday Tomato Basil Paremsan Soup from http:// inthekitchenandonthecouch.blogspot.com/2012/01/my-idea-of-comfort-soup.html

Tuesday Quick shrimp Chowder soup from http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/quick-shrimpchowder-10000000569452/

Wednesday Potato Soup from http://www.tipsfromatypicalmom.com/search/label/Recipes? updated-max=2010-01-19T10:27:00-07:00&max-

Thursday Hibachi Soup from http://cookingwithcarrie.blogspot.com/2009/06/hibachisoup.html

Friday (I personally made this one myself so good)

Chicken Enchilada soup from http://realmomkitchen.com/463/chicken-enchiladasoup-and-my-top-10-soup-recipes/

Your Health: The Common Cold by K. Bryant

We all have gotten what is known around my household as the most hated germ infested sickness of the winter. How do we get colds? Well in my home it’s by my son being at school so when he gets sick he normally passes it to the baby then it passes to me after I take care of the two of them. Funny thing is it hardly ever passes to my husband why I am still trying to figure that part out. A cold according to Wikipedia is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract which affects primarily the nose. Symptoms include a cough, sore throat, runny nose, and fever which usually resolve in seven to ten days, with some symptoms lasting up to three weeks. When we get a cold around here in my household it starts with the runny nose, then the fever sets in, from there it’s either a few coughs or a lot depending on what medicines are used. There is really no way to stop a cold eating right will help, taking vitamins will help, washing your hands will help and staying away from people will definitely help. All these things will not prevent a cold though it comes when it wants to come and there is really no cure for it. Medicines will help to alleviate the cold but it won’t clear it up completely. I don't’ know what your remedies are but here are a few that I have used. *Note I am not a doctor but I get a cold every winter and my colds never last more than a week* 

I drink room temperature Ginger Ale ~ A friend of mines who is from Africa turned me on to this remedy a while back. I normally get the red rock ginger ale why because it’s more powerful than the Canada dry and you can feel the burn

Honey helps ~ It doesn’t work for me but for the kids it works wonders because there is not much medicine that I can give a 3 year old for a cough but the honey helps the coughing a little.

Children's Tylenol /Motrin Cold ~ I use it for my son and for myself. I don’t know if they make it anymore but I took the Children's Motrin cold meds in a double dose and I felt better within 24 hours

Vicks vapor rub~ This has been around since forever. My mom used it on me and I use it on both my kids. It helps the kids to breathe better at night and helps some of that snot come down (yeah I said it)

Sleepy Time Tea~ This helps me sleep at night and warms me up. I don’t know if it helps but it sure does taste good with honey it.

Be safe this winter and whatever you use don’t let that cold get the best out of you.

Business: Sweet Tooth Desserts Name: Carsedra McKoy Occupation: Baker and Owner of Sweet Tooth Desserts in Lithonia Georgia One word to describe you: My sisters say I am Eccentric in a good way. Hobbies: Jewelry Making One thing you have learned in life: “Don’t complain about the things you have the power to change but won’t” Website: http://sweets4yourtooth.blogspot.com/

How did you come up with your name? When you think of having a “sweet tooth” you normally want something sweet like a dessert, well I put the 2 together and there you have Sweet Tooth Desserts!! What was it that made you want to get into baking? I have loved baking for years; it started when I was younger. Seeing my mom and grandma at the holidays bake all these yummy pies and cakes really had me wanting to learn how too.

What are some challenges you face with baking and how did you overcome them? One challenge is like with many businesses, is the down times when you aren’t really getting any business, it helps that I have a regular full time job. J Another is really getting my business out there, trying to do that without having to spend a lot of money can be hard. What makes your business different from everyone else? That is a good question. I would say what makes my business different is that even though it’s a business that I of course want to make money from; sometimes I will take a loss of profit on an order. Making something special that I know someone will love that they otherwise may not be able to afford makes me happy. I am willing to work with my customer’s budgets and still create something beautiful that will make them happy. I am not so stern on my prices that I can’t be flexible sometimes. How has the economy helped or hurt your business? It has hurt it because the orders aren’t coming in like they used to. J People love something unique made just for them, but a lot of time it’s cheaper to buy from a grocery store bakery, which I understand. This does however go back to what makes my business different, because like I mentioned I am willing to work with a customer’s budget. What kinds of sweets do you offer your clients? I offer cakes, cupcakes, cookies, cookie cakes, decorated cookies and pies. I also offer desserts trays with assorted desserts. All my dessert can be for weddings, birthdays, corporate events or any special occasion. I also offer candy and desserts bars for parties and I offer cookie decorating for kids parties. What are your future goals for your business? To one day open and own my own bakery or shop and do this full time. What advice do you have for someone who may want to bake? Go for it, it’s something that can be a lot of fun and rewarding. Allow your creative juices to flow and take advantage of the many free classes, paid courses and tutorials out there to help you perfect your craft. I haven’t taken any classes, but I have learned a lot from tutorials I find online. I do plan to take some formal classes, but until then YouTube and other baking blogs are my best friends. Practice, practice, practice and try new recipes, even if you don’t have orders practice your decorating and trying out new recipes. There is more than one way make vanilla cake, red velvet cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies. Always be willing to learn more and stay up on what’s current with techniques, tools etc. Lastly I would say do it from the heart and make sure it’s something you love to do, I believe it shows in your work and how your product taste when you do it with love, like moms/ grandmas home cooking!! J What's the best part of owning your own business? Being able to see the enjoyment on my customers faces when they see their desserts and hearing how delicious it is, it makes me happy knowing that I was able to create something they loved.


Name: Talia Foster

Vinyl Eloquence

Occupation: Special Project Coordinator One word to describe you: Determined! Hobbies: Crafting, Crocheting, Hosting events One thing you have learned in life: Never give up! Website: www.etsy.com/shop/VinylEloquence

1. How did you come up with your business idea? I love personalized items and love crafting. 2. What makes your business different from other companies that may do the same thing? The love I put into my work. The research I do to continuously improve my business. 3. How did you come up with your name? The material that I use is Vinyl and Eloquence being defined as graceful, expressive, elegant helped me come up with our name because at Vinyl Eloquence we use our art as a form of expression. 4. How do you come up with your designs? Do you do your own designs or go strictly by what the customer wants? We do custom designs as well as come up with our own designs. We do sample designs and ask for feedback from our clients. 5. What are some future plans for your company? We are in the process of getting some of our items into some local retail stores and gift shops. 6. What was it that made you want you own your own business? I love the flexibility and being able to express myself through the items that I create.

Readers Corner Falling Behind by Shanay Lowe The winner of the race is determined by who crosses over the finish line first. The person who is a hairline behind in second place who may have trained harder and longer but is just having an off day is considered amongst the rest behind him: a loser. In races winning is defined by quantity-who simply finishes first. In everyday life, if winning were defined on these terms only 1% of us would be crowned with the winning title. Life is unpredictable. On the day to day basis, no matter how hard we strive, many times a lot of us tend to fall behind in the race somehow. One minute we seem to be in the lead with everything positively going our way, then the next we look up and realize that 3 or more other people somehow rose above us and is now in our spotlight. When this happens we are forced to make a choice: to fight for our rightful place or to fall back in the shadows and silently give up. Giving up is easy, its trying that is the tough thing to do. As a child you are taught that if when you fall off your bike you are suppose to get up, dust yourself off and hop right back on otherwise you will be so paralyzed with fear that you will never desire to ride again. This is a metaphor for succeeding in life. I was 12 years old I fell off of my bike at the park across the street from my house. It was a pretty bad fall; I scraped up my knee and gashed my chin so deep that I had to get stitches. I haven't ridden a bike since. It seemed like a harmless reaction to the fall at the time but within the following 13 years leading to my present life, I have quit every sport and/or extra curricular activity I've ever loved before I even had the opportunity to fail at it. Apparently this harmless reaction became a defense mechanism to avoidance of failure overtime. By taking myself out of the race before it even started, I gave up on myself before I even had the opportunity to fail. I never gave myself a chance which ultimately became a larger aspect of failure that I had to live with than that of which I was attempting to avoid in the first place. While attempting to avoid failure may appear to save you the agony of enduring the shame, embarrassment and overall pain of failure itself, in the long run it sets you up for nonfulfillment within the essence of brevity. Failure is defined as an act or instance of proving unsuccessful. Life without chance, is failure; because chance and taking chances in life is what gives you the possible outcome and opportunity of achieving success.

Looking back now and thinking of my decisions to avoid failure, all I seem to be stuck with in the present is "coulda, shoulda, woulda." If failure was a masochist, regret would be its aphrodisiac. A life full of regret is bleak. A life full of regret that could have been avoided is dispiriting. When we are younger we imagine what our lives will be like and where we'll be in our highlight years of 21, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50 and so on. For the elite few that were able to scratch off every goal written in their diaries by each desired age-KUDOS; but for the rest of us who have fallen a bit short of that goal list we made years ago...what are we left with? Does are shortcomings mean that we are losers or failures in this game called life, or are we only failures if we allow that to be our state of mind and idea of perception that we accept? There are some days that I have that are so full of disappointment of my life progression that I want to just lay in fetal position under the covers and never come out. I feel helpless, hopeless and embarrassed. Everyday trials in reaching your goals such as finances, education, etc is enough of a downer to deal with-just to top it off with competition. Human beings tend to be naturally competitive creatures but competition can take its toll on a individual when they define themselves through the comparison of others around them. I have always been a perfectionist and more importantly a dreamer. My dreams are what keep me going half of the time. Its what instills hope in my mind-in my safe imagination where I am exactly who I want to be, where I want to be and with the people I want to share it with. That luxury alone of living that reality even with my eyes closed is enough to fill my head with enough drive to say, "just one more try." What has managed to actually open my eyes and attempt to make my dreams a reality is the realization that every new day that God allows me to open my eyes and breathe should be used as a new start or another chance for me to do the things that I want to do and become the person who I want to be; my past and possibility of failure is nonexistent because of opportunity; and until God does call home, I take every new day as another chance to pursue my dreams. The older you get the more clear it becomes that life doesn't always play out the way you wanted or expected. Sometimes it doesn't matter how far ahead you try and prepare, how many back up plans for back up plans you have or how many stars you wish on. From the single mother trying to go back and complete school, to the college sophomore working full time on the side to afford her full time school work load tuition, to the husband and father working 3 part time minimum wage jobs to support his family, to the recent high school grad trying to find his path between becoming an independent working adult or dependent college student to the young lady that seems so put together but is falling apart on the inside...everyone has a story and is going through something. The problem is when we begin to let this setbacks define us and therefore we lose hope. Once this cycle stops, healing can begin; and this can only proceed through the realization that we are not defined by how hard we fall, but on rather or not we choose to get back up.


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